I wrote before about digital TO-DO lists failing me but as I’ve been reading through GTD again, I’ve been realizing that the carpenter has been blaming his tools.
My main complaints about software GTD/TO-DO tools were that they allowed me to put 10,000 things in them on any given day. There was never a good way to see that in 2 months, on that Monday, I’d have 20 tasks and I was adding a 21st task.
My transition to paper didn’t solve my issues either. Sure, I could only write so many things on a day, but then I lost the ubiquitous capture of a software tool inbox. That left all the random bits rattling around in my head instead of actually being written down. With so much in my brain, focus was hard, so much cognitive process was wasted on remembering.
The real problem was me, not the tools.
Problem 1 – No reviews
My first problem was that I didn’t review enough. The only reason to wake up Monday and ‘randomly’ see that you have 21 things to do is that you didn’t review on Friday to see what’s coming up.
Everything that might potentially require action must be reviewed on a frequent enough basis to keep your mind from taking back the job of remembering and reminding. – Getting Things Done
If you had reviewed, you’d know that there was 21 things coming up and you’d have reorganized them and prioritized them. You’ve probably got 2 or 3 of those 21 things that simply don’t need to be done at all and can be removed.
You probably have another 5 – 8 that don’t need to be done on that day specifically and can be spread out over the rest of the week.
Solution: Stick to Friday project reviews. Go through every project and ‘touch’ each item in it. Make sure you’re aware of what it is and how to deal with it.
Problem 2 – Extra crap
My second problem is that I was using OmniFocus as my ‘tickler’ or list file. I had lists of books there that simply didn’t need to be there. Sticking all my books in Amazon in a wishlist is a better spot for it. As I wrote last week Evernote is a way better spot for things to tickle me.
On Amazon I can actually purchase them.
So when I did my ‘review’ I was looking at my lists of books and DVD’s and… That made my review take longer which meant I was less likely to do it.
So I moved all of those lists out to proper spots. Like I said above, books are in Amazon. The list of DVD’s I need to finish ripping is in Evernote for me to bring up when I’ve got a bit of time to do it.
Ideas for plugins or books are in Evernote, as well under product ideas.
Because I use Evernote for all those lists I don’t even have to make a TO-DO note about adding something to my list, I just open Evernote and search the list and add to it.
What’s the most frustrating part of your business? Are you continually getting behind on something or feeling lost?
Is it the tools you’re using or you? Most times it’s you that needs the adjustment. No piece of software can magically make you more productive.